About spoiled milk

Updated April 17, 2017

One taste of spoiled milk will surely turn your stomach. Spoiled milk is distinctive in its aroma and appearance, but it need not be chucked out. It's a critical component of some delicacies, so learn more about spoiled milk to make sure you're not tossing out a valuable commodity.


It's relatively easy to identify spoiled milk. It has a distinctive smell and appearance, depending on when the milk turned. It might taste bitter as it begins to turn. It also will smell sour. As it continues to spoil, milk develops chunks that are the curdled milk.


Most people who drink spoiled milk immediately identify the "off" taste and spit it out. But young children who may not know better may drink the milk. If ingested, spoiled milk will affect a child as any other food poisoning. That is, the child will have stomach pains and likely have diarrhoea and vomit to remove the poisoned food.

Be vigilant about any mould that appears on milk. Pasteurisation has largely removed these from the food supply, but they can appear in unpasteurised milk. Mold may appear brown, green, pink or white. If any of these colours appear and the milk smells sour, do not ingest it.


The pasteurisation process removes many bacteria from milk. Before the invention of pasteurisation, drinking milk that was spoiled had the potential to cause death or a very significant illness. Pasteurisation kills bacteria by heating the milk to a scalding temperature, killing off any mould, yeast or bacteria that might carry disease and affect the person drinking the milk. It does not kill off the microorganisms in milk but seeks to reduce the disease-carrying agents that naturally inhabit milk. Created by Louis Pasteur in the 1860s, pasteurisation was first applied to milk that was fed to infants and children in ill health. Success led to a wider application, treating the milk supplies of major cities in America. Most milk that you purchase today in a standard grocery store has been pasteurised, but spoiled milk still has the potential to make you sick.


Not all spoiled milk must go to waste. You can, for example, use the turned milk to make paneer, a versatile farmer's cheese made in India (see Resources). It can be included in appetizers and main dishes as well as desserts. It's a good substitute for meat, because it has a versatility similar to that of tofu; it adopts the flavours of what it's being cooked with.

Paneer is boiled milk that has been curdled with acidic agents (vinegar, lemon or yoghurt). The solids are strained and pressed under a hard surface, such as a thick dictionary. It can be a good way to make use of a product you would typically pour down the drain.


If your child has found a bottle or sippy cup of milk that's been hidden away in the car or bed for a few days, she may not exhibit any symptoms. Starting with the saliva in her mouth and throughout her gastrointestinal system, your child's body is equipped to work against germs. And milk is fertile ground for the development of germs because of its nutritious value--good for us; good for germs. But if your child develops a fever or suffers from vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain in the following few days, call a doctor.

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About the Author

Carolyn Williams began writing and editing professionally over 20 years ago. Her work appears on various websites. An avid traveler, swimmer and golf enthusiast, Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College and a Master of Business Administration from St. Mary's College of California.